M23 Rebels Announce Withdrawal From Eastern Congo 

M23 Rebels Announce Withdrawal From Eastern Congo (News Central TV)

Following confrontations with government troops in the Rutshuru district, rebels from the M23 group have declared their withdrawal from communities they occupied last week in eastern DR Congo.

After several days of relative peace, fighting between rebels and soldiers erupted Wednesday, with rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) seizing control of approximately a dozen villages in Rutshuru region in North Kivu province, according to reports.

The M23 took the “decision to withdraw, once more, from its newly-won positions to allow for its concerns to be addressed through open and fruitful dialogue with the government” of DR Congo, the group said on Sunday.

The M23 “never had the intention to capture areas to run them, our only motivation is the peaceful resolution of the crisis,” it added in a statement.

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But it was not confirmed whether the withdrawal from around a dozen villages had taken place.

Former members of a Congolese Tutsi armed group that was once funded by Rwanda and Uganda created the M23.

A peace agreement struck on March 23, 2009 absorbed the rebels into the Congolese army.

They rebelled in 2012, claiming that the agreement had been broken and renaming their movement the March 23 (M23) Movement.

The M23 briefly controlled the city of Goma before being defeated and forced out of the nation, becoming one of the many armed organisations roaming eastern DR Congo.

It eventually signed an agreement with the government after its defeat, which included arrangements for its fighters to reintegrate into civilian society. However, the group has accused the government of breaking the agreement once more, and combat restarted last year.

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Rwanda and Uganda had already been accused of assisting M23 by UN investigators. Both countries reject this, claiming that they intervened militarily in Congo during two regional battles 20 years ago.

The assailants have wreaked serious havoc on residents and Government structures in recent times in Eastern Congo. On March 31, News Central reported that they shot down a U.N helicopter in the country’s east with about eight people confirmed dead.

On March 28, M23 Rebels attacked a Military Base near the villages of Tshanzu and Runyoni, close to the provincial capital Goma.

Recall that last week Tuesday, hundreds of Congolese citizens fled into Uganda following rebel attacks on their homes.

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